Chancellor Charles R. Bantz
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Greetings from IUPUI

October 2008

On October 7, we broke ground for the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute, to be located on the northeast corner of Michigan Street and West Drive, immediately west of Long Hospital. The building will house the Department of Ophthalmology, which observes its 100th anniversary this year.

A $30 million gift from the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Family Foundation made possible the building's construction and creates a $10 million endowment that will advance research in eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, other age-related vision problems, and eye diseases in children.

The four-story, 70,000-square-foot building will have an adult outpatient clinic, ophthalmology classrooms, an optical shop, a basic science research center, faculty and administrative offices, graduate student meeting rooms, and space for program expansion. Nearly half the building will be dedicated to space for research. It will permit us to increase faculty, doubling the number of researchers and physicians dedicated to finding solutions to vision loss.

Marilyn Glick devoted more than 28 years of service to Prevent Blindness Indiana. A few years ago, when she visited our Department of Ophthalmology, she was impressed with the research and potential for interdisciplinary collaboration. Her expectations are high. She wants to see major breakthroughs and she wants Indiana University to be at the forefront in vision research.

Since 1908, the IU ophthalmology department has offered the only medical education program for ophthalmologists in the state. More than 500 residents and fellows have been trained in the field, and more than half of all ophthalmologists in Indiana are alumni. In addition to research, the department staffs a clinical care center for people suffering vision loss.

Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends celebrated the centennial of the founding of the IU Department of Ophthalmology October 10-12 with a medical education conference, "Advances in Ophthalmology: The Future is Here."

The Department of Opthalmology also houses the most complete laboratory in the world for quantifying blood flow in the back of the eye.

Alon Harris, Lois Letzter Professor of Ophthalmology, Professor of Cellular and Integrative Physiology, and director of the Glaucoma Research and Diagnostic Laboratories, uses the state-of-the-art blood flow device to understand abnormal ocular blood flow in patients with glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Scientists then look for medications that can improve blood flow to the back of the eye. Dr. Harris, who holds both a master's and doctorate from IU, is focusing on medications that alter blood flow in macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Mark Criswell, also an IU alumnus, is a core faculty member in the Indiana Center for Vascular Biology and Medicine, an affiliated scientist with the IU Center for Aging Research, and director of the Retina Service Research Laboratories. His interdisciplinary research involves vascular changes in diabetic retinopathy. The lab studies the underlying causes of retinal pathologies and evaluates the effectiveness of drug agents and therapies currently under development to treat these conditions.

Another development contributing to IUPUI's leadership as the translational campus is the Indiana Commission for Higher Education's approval of our new Ph.D. in biostatistics, which involves the collaboration of the Department of Mathematical Sciences in our Purdue School of Science and the School of Medicine's Division of Biostatistics. The program requires graduate work in statistics, probability, and the design of clinical trials.

The participation of doctoral-level biostatisticians in designing clinical trials and analyzing data is an increasingly important component of translating research into practice, whether in universities, private industry, or government agencies, so demand for experts in the field will continue to grow. In fact, the most successful National Institutes of Health grant applications are collaborations between clinical or bench scientists and biostatisticians.

It is aptly said that "statistics is the taming of randomness," so this new program should help speed the pace of translating research into practice.


Charles R. Bantz
Chancellor

 

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